Do you know about surging glaciers? Andrew fills us in…

by Guest Blogger

June 23, 2005

This is Andrew here, reporting in from the bridge of the Arctic Sunrise. This

is usually a nice and quiet place to work when were at dock. Henriette, the

second mate is my only company. It’s as close to a private office as you can

get on this ship.

Today Oddur Sigurosson, a geologist and glacier

expert with the National Energy Authority, gave a briefing in the hold for crew

and guests about the state of Iceland’s glaciers. Why does the National Energy

Authority need a glacier expert? Mainly because Iceland has a lot of

hydropower dependant on glacier melt.

Let me tell you a little about glaciers.

Glaciers, as I learned today, are not the static and unchanging lumps of ice.

They are always changing, often in dramatic ways, especially surging glaciers.

Surging glaciers compress build up mass and then “surge” – traveling downhill

in bursts.

Non-surging glaciers are easiest for studying the effects of climate change.

Their shape does not significantly alter, being somewhat parabolic, and the

terminus (bottom end) only really changes. By measuring where the glacier

ends, you know how much mass the glacier has lost. With surging glaciers you

can also measure their decline, but need to factor in their individual surge

cycle, which varies from glacier to glacier.

Sigurosson also told us that like most glaciers in the rest of the world,

Iceland’s are melting because of human caused global warming. The only

questions are how fast and what we are going to do about it.

Want more glacier talk? Don’t worry, there will be plenty more coming right

here. Lots and lots more. Keep checking back.

-Andrew

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